A STORY WRITTEN BY SERAH IYA￼￼RE
Daniel battled with the urge to go after his wife. But he decided to look for Sheila. He would deal with his wife later. If Sheila had called her parents, they would be on their way. He saw her the moment he stepped out of the house. She was lying on the ground. His heart skipped a beat. What happened to her?
“Sheila?” He hurried to her side. She looked unconscious. His heart raced. “Sheila… ” He shook her by the shoulder. She made no response. His heart beat quickened. He pulled out his phone from his pocket and dialed his father-in-law’s number.
The security guard opened the gate. John drove the car into the large compound and packed it. Eureka screamed when she saw her daughter lying on the ground. She dashed out of the car, followed by her husband. She sunk to her kneels and touched her face.
“Sheila… Baby… Sheila… ”
Daniel met his brother-in-law’s gaze. Martha walked out of the house. Her sister-in-law’s scream had alerted.
“Let us take her to the hospital at once,” she pulled at her husband’s trouser. He knelt down and carried her. Daniel tried to help him, but he declined.
John placed his daughter on the back seat of his car while Eureka sat beside her.
“What happened?” Martha tugged at her husband’s shirt.
“Get my car keys, we need to follow them.”
“Get the keys Martha!”
She froze. He had never raised his voice at her before. Why was he staring and talking to her as if she had anything to do with Sheila’s condition?
“Get going woman!”
She backed away and returned to the house. What was wrong with her husband? She doubted if she wanted to follow him to the hospital. She would rather stay at home than stand beside him in the state of mind he was in. Where was his car keys?
John drove out and began to pray. It was only God that could heal his daughter completely. Eureka called her father-in-law and Sheila’s doctor.
John and Eureka sat in the waiting room.
Charles, Sheila’s doctor and a team of medics were attending to their daughter. They held each other’s hands and prayed silently. Daniel and Martha approached them. They took the seats opposite the couple and waited.
“What happened to my daughter? What led to her unconsciousness?” John faced his brother-in-law. Daniel swallowed hard. Martha folded her hands across her chest and avoided looking at her brother and his wife. Her husband had not spoken a word to her since they left home. She had no intention of following him to the hospital, but he turned deaf ears to her pleas and arguments.
“John… Sheila wasn’t comfortable with her visit, she decided to leave… I found her unconscious.”
“Just like that!” His voice rose.
“Look John… ”
“No,” he shook his head, “I should have listened to her in the first place,” he turned to look at his sister, “She didn’t want to visit because of her aunt’s hostile attitude.”
Martha met her brother’s glare. “Don’t look at me like that. I am not responsible for your daughter’s condition.”
“Really? Do you want to bet on that?”
She hissed and looked away. She didn’t care what he thought.
Charles approached them. Eureka got up when she saw him.
“She has gained consciousness.”
“Thank you Jesus!” She held her husband. He made a sigh of relief.
“Her memories are back… We will like to examine her and run a test or two, but, as far as I am concerned, she is out of the woods.”
Eureka began to cry. John shook hands with his father. He was glad that the three weeks’ nightmare was over. God had answered their prayers.
“I am so happy for you.”
John patted his brother-in-law on the shoulder, “Thank you.”
“When can we see her?” Eureka could hardly wait to see her daughter.
“Right now. Please come with me.”
John and Eureka followed Charles. Daniel turned to look at his wife.
“Do you realize what your bitterness for Sheila caused today?”
She frowned and refused to look at him.
“What kind of a Christian are you if you cannot forgive the person that offended you?”
Her frown deepened.
“It makes me begin to wonder, what if I offended you? Will you ever forgive me? Will you treat me the same way you have treated Sheila?”
Her frown faded, she met her husband’s sad gaze.
“It makes me wonder, what kind of a woman did I marry?”
His words pierced at her heart. She tried to speak, but her throat tightened.
“It doesn’t matter what Sheila said or did to you or us or anybody. All that matters are your reaction. Haven’t you heard of the phrase, ‘loving the unlovable’? That is the true test of your so called faith in Christ Jesus. If God can forgive you, why can’t you forgive someone else?” He shook his head at her and walked away.
Martha felt as if she had been drenched with cold water. Had she been so blinded by bitterness that she couldn’t draw Sheila close and win her over with love? What kind of examples had she laid down for others to follow? What had she done? What had she been thinking? Her actions had made her husband to question their marriage. It was obvious that if she didn’t let go and forgive Sheila, her bitterness will cost her everything she held dear to her heart.
She stood on shaky legs, tried to steady herself and walked out of the hospital. She found her husband’s car, unlocked one of the doors and got in. Every tear she had been holding back gushed out and bathed her face. She bowed her head and asked God to forgive her and give her strength to forgive her niece. They both needed a second chance.
Sheila laid on her bed and turned on her side. Sleep had evaded her. She debated whether to go to the kitchen and make a sandwich and down it with a cup of hot beverage or remain in her room and try to seduce sleep.
The return of her memory had been a great news. Her parents were relieved and happy. She would be returning to school soon. She had only missed a couple of weeks. She had called her classmates and they had informed her that she had dozens of assignments and a few tests to sort out. Her parents had gone to see the head of her department and advised him on her situation. That would definitely take care of any difficult lecturer.
She had been amazed at the way each and every member of her family treated her during the period of her illness. They were there for her when she needed them most. Despite the way she related to them in the past, no one took their pound of flesh. Except her aunt, Martha.
She sat up and drew her pillows close to her bosom. Everybody forgave her and helped her, all except Martha. Her aunt couldn’t look past their past and reach out to assist her in her time of need. It became clear to her that her aunt’s hatred for her ran deep. Would that woman ever find it in her heart to forgive her?
She had decided to start afresh with everyone. Regardless of what they might do or say to her, she would always respond in love. After all, they were her family.
Edidiong stood at a corner with her friends. The seating areas at the Lagoon front was occupied with several students. Some were reading while most of them were just gisting. A few were taking naps. She wished she could go and wake them up and send them off to their rooms or wherever they came from. She cleared her mind from crazy thoughts and tried to listen to what one of her friends was saying.
She sighted Sheila heading towards the exit. Should she call out to her? Will she respond? She had only seen her cousin once after she regained her memory. She wondered if the old Sheila was back. She preferred the new Sheila, the one she had built a growing friendship with. She bit at her lower lip and decided to give it a trial. If her cousin rejected her, it would be on record that at least she made an effort.
“Sheila!” She left her friends and went after her cousin.
Sheila halted. She heard something that sounded like her name. Was someone calling her? She looked around her.
She heard it again. Someone was definitely calling her. Who could that be? She turned in the direction of the sound and saw her cousin walking towards her.
“Edidiong!” She waved at her. She had been thinking of calling her cousin since she got back to school but procrastination had delayed her.
“Hey you… ” She closed the gap between them and pulled her into a bear hug.
“I was thinking of calling you.”
“Really?” She pulled away, “When did you resume school?”
“And you have been thinking of calling all week long? I am definitely at the bottom of your list.”
“Ah! Not so.”
“If you say so.”
“What are you doing here?” She adjusted the leather folder she was carrying.
“Just chilling out with friends.”
Sheila nodded, “I was about going to one of those fake cafeterias to have lunch.”
“Really? I will come with you.”
“Let’s get my car.”
They headed for the exit. Edidiong was glad that things were moving on smoothly between them. God had definitely used the accident to give them a second chance.
“When is Boma completing his NYSC programme?” She looked at her cousin who was smiling sheepishly. It was obvious her mind had travelled far away. She tugged at her blouse.
“What?” She blinked.
“A penny for your thoughts.”
“What about a pound sterling?”
They both giggled.
“When is Boma coming home?”
Edidiong shrugged, “In a couple of months.”
“I can’t wait to graduate.”
“Welcome to the club.”
They walked up to Edidiong’s car and got in.
“Why don’t we eat out?”
“Sounds like a good idea.”
Edidiong winked at her and started the cars.
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